I’ve recently received a question about L’Oreal’s cruelty-free status. A reader told me they heard that L’Oreal no longer tests on animals. Is there any truth to this?

Let me start with a quote from L’Oreal newly-created animal testing FAQ:

“L’Oréal no longer tests any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others.”

No wonder misleading rumors about L’Oreal being cruelty-free are spreading. The above statement would imply that L’Oreal doesn’t test finished products or ingredients on animals at any stage of production, that their suppliers don’t test raw materials on animals, and that they have pulled out of China.

False! Read the following sentence:

“An exception could be made if authorities required it for human safety or regulatory purposes.” In order words, they do fund animal testing of their finished products in China, where the practice is required by law.

But wait! There’s more deception!

The whole change in L’Oreal’s animal testing policy took place with March 2013 as a cut-off date. The company now claims not to test its finished products or raw materials on animals after this date. They claim:

“When a supplier proposes us an ingredient, we ask to examine its safety dossier. If the dossier contains data generated by means of animal testing before March 2013, L’Oréal can retain the ingredient. If the data was generated after March 2013 and was for a cosmetics application, L’Oréal cannot retain the ingredient. If the data was generated after March 2013 but was for a usage other than cosmetics, then L’Oréal can retain the ingredient.”

Basically, L’Oreal claims not to use any ingredients that have tested on animals IF those ingredients have been tested on animals after March 2013 AND IF they have been tested for cosmetic reasons only. Dear readers, THIS IS THEIR LOOPHOLE.

This is what allows L’Oreal to use animal-tested ingredients in their formulations for new products. These new products consist of anti-wrinkle products, acne treatments, sunscreens, and other skin-correcting or skin-protecting “miracle” products; L’Oreal surely knows what strings to pull to have these products fall under the “medicated ingredients” list.

L’Oreal actually has a history of disguising its cosmetics as drugs, and has been sued by the FDA over misleading ads regarding this. The FDA claimed that L’Oreal products “were intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body, rendering them drugs under the Act (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).” This is proof that some of L’Oreal’s products were indeed marketed as drugs.

Whether or not there’s a link, one thing’s for sure: the company clearly states to be using ingredients that have been tested on animals for medical reasons, even after their cut-off date of March 2013.

There’s also this statement: ” Also, in response to questions raised by the scientific community and by civil society, local authorities could choose to reexamine the safety data of a known family of ingredients, and could require new safety data.” This is meant to cover their asses, but it also means: If an ingredient that has a proven safety records needs to be re-tested, they will gladly comply by testing it on animals, which is unacceptable for a truly cruelty-free company.

All in all, L’Oreal is not and has never been cruelty-free. L’Oreal doesn’t claim not to test new ingredients on animals. L’Oreal still sells in China. L’Oreal still kills and tortures animals every day by funding animal testing, be it in China or, presumably, for new ingredients. This is one of the the biggest lies relating to animal testing that I’ve seen.

Out of all the companies that have masqueraded as being cruelty-free — and the list is long — L’Oreal wins the grand prize.

  • Mina

    It’s funny, cause Milla Jovovich, a long-time L’Oreal model, made a remark that L’Oreal has “always been” cruelty free since many years ago. I wrote an entry refuting that bold faced lie. Btw, I wonder if other cruelty-free people are like me — I refuse to watch any movies showcasing people like Jovovich, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslett, and many others who are paid tons of money to model products for L’Oreal specifically. Let’s not forget Miss Emma Watson who gets paid by Lancome. Why I am REALLY puzzled about is, these people already have more than enough money, why do they succumb to this? Aren’t a few millions already enough for these people?

    • Suzi

      Hah. I think many, many people (celebrities included!) are actually ignorant about the animal testing going on. Wouldn’t surprise me if Milla actually believed that statement.

    • BillyJean MirrorDeep

      So so manny celebs I like work with all these brands, seems so weird to me, when they seem so involved with other good causes.. random late response, but I was looking around for the subject and needed to vent..

  • Lauren

    Animal testing is the worst and only slightly less worse is finding ways to weasel words about to make it appear as though you are NOT complicit in animal cruelty, when all people want is a clear and definitive statement so they can make choices based on their ethics. L’Oreal, you cannot have it both ways: either say “Yep, we test on animals and we’re okay with losing market share to people who care about that stuff.” or “No we don’t test anything on animals, ever.” and then don’t test on animals ever. Stop being stupid. And, with regards to the concerns raised about celebrities promoting these products, I think there is something to be said for the need to research the companies one fronts and whether they jive with your ethics or not. That said, people would have to sort out their own ethics in order to even know what they were and no one likes doing icky, uncomfortable shit like that.

    • Suzi

      Agreed! Thanks for commenting!

  • kisekileia

    Where do you get that L’Oreal isn’t claiming to not test new ingredients on animals? I’m not seeing any exclusion for new ingredients in what you have written about here.

  • Sophia_B

    Due all respect, you are making assumptions here than showing any evidence. EVERY brand that sells their product in China has to test their products on animals in China. This is not company procedure but the Chinese law orders them to do. No company will ever turn down 1billion potential customers, you need to direct the criticism to the Chinese authorities for keeping a law like that, not to L’Oreal or any other brand. And “they probably test new ingredients in China to use in other countries” is just your assumption. I think it’s unfair to make such assumptions, also makes you (or activists) lose your credibility.

    • Emily Perry

      There are plenty of brands (popular brands who could make a hell of a lot of money in China) who choose not to sell in China, it just depends on whether or not their morals or pockets are more important.

      • Lexi Alexandra

        Exactly!! ^^^

    • Lexi Alexandra

      Excuse me, but if a company claims to be cruelty free then actively pursues the Chinese market, knowing full well that animal testing is required by law over there, it’s on the company, not Chinese law! It’s all about the $$$ for them, so by choosing China, they’re choosing $$$ & animal exploitation over caring about their cruelty free status. Activists don’t care if you find us credible or not because the facts speak the awful truth. Don’t put this on us. Plenty of companies do well without China. It’s unfortunate that some have sold out. Fact remains, they’re making an informed decision, resulting in animal cruelty. It’s up to China to change, too, but they’re a sovereign state, so we can’t do much on that side. What we can do is not support these outdated absolutely unnecessary ways by staying out of the mainland Chinese markets. I may be repeating myself over and over, but sometimes people need that to fully understand their flawed thinking and opinions. Thank you.

    • LawGeek

      Look at any list of genuinely cruelty free cosmetics. All of those companies are indeed foregoing the Chinese market, which undoubtedly would be profitable for a significant percentage of them. There are plenty of large, international companies on those lists, including about half of the US’s Sephora brands, who could reasonably expand there (not least at the187 Sephoras in China). Urban Decay, NYX, Paula’s Choice, The Body Shop, Jack Black, and Yes To Carrots have all pledged to never enter the Chinese market while this rule is in place.

      In addition, many companies already selling in China withdrew when this law was passed. Paul Mitchell Systems, Dermalogica, Pangea Organics, and Nature’s Gate all pulled out of China in order to stay cruelty-free.

      If you don’t disagree with this business decision, you are free to have that opnion. It is a complicated choice, and businesses have a lot of factors to consider. But to pretend that it is unreasonable to expect just shows that you haven’t done the slightest bit of reading on this. Many companies can, and have, weighed this decision in favor of ethics.

  • If it wasn’t for cosmetics, they can still use the ingredients that were tested on animals.

  • This is so sad. I got excited when I heard that they went cruelty free, but I knew it was too good to be true.

  • Tia Turner

    Makes me really sad that L’Oréal keeps on conducting like this. Such a huge brand could afford cruelty-free testing methods. Their influence and reach is so huge worldwide…sad, sad, sad.

  • Claudia

    I’ve heard amazing things about Milani Conceal + Perfect

  • Sophie

    First of all as a regulatory affairs assistant I just want to say that :

    – it is not L’Oréal doing the tests in China. The Cfda has its own laboratories, and they check everything from toxicological data to physical and chemistry. So yes L’Oréal doesn’t not tests in China. So if you definitely want to buy something cruelty free, make sure it is not sold in China. Everything sold there is tested. BUT they are doing progress ! They have accepted some new alternative tests. ?

    – About ingredients : every (type) of ingredient sold before 2013 (cosmetic regulation 1223/2009) has unfortunately been tested. The manufacturer may not have done it but it was done by another one before. Even more if the ingredients are not only destined to the cosmetic industry but also to the pharmaceutical or chemical one, then it will probably be tested (usually it’s about very acute toxicology or repro toxic risk like abortion or disease). So unfortunately most product even cruelty free contains ingredients that have been tested. ? For exemple glycerin.

    – For the USA: well let’s not go too far. Fda classifies a product as a drug or most of the time Otc, If the advertising goes to far (damn people wants efficiency and marketing teams know that). They are far stricter when it comes to claims that when it is about their product composition.

    I hope you’ll take it in a good way and not curse at me. I was just trying to add a few regulatory details. If you want to help the protection of the animals go into science and help the research teams develop new alternative methods. ?

  • Miamigirl

    Disgusting there is no longer a need to test on animals science has other ways of testing now in 2017.

  • new_york_night

    Many thanks to the author and to commentors for shedding light on L’Oreal’s ruse. I will continue to spread the word and boycott their products. L’Oreal: you listening??